These author interviews I’ve been doing are so interesting, but there’s just one problem: my reading list is getting huge! These talented writers have created so many books that I want to dive into—the ones I haven’t previously read. But that’s a good problem to have. This week I’m interviewing George Cramer, author of The Mona Lisa Sisters and the upcoming Robbers and Cops. I know George from the California Writers Club, and some of you may recall that he interviewed me for his blog awhile back. Enjoy the interview!
About the Author
An enrolled descendant of the Karuk Tribe of California, George Cramer brings forty years of investigative experience to crime and historical fiction. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
George conducted and managed thousands of successful investigations throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. In recent years, he kept his skills honed by volunteering as a missing person’s investigator at the San Leandro, California, Police Department. George is a member of Crime Writers of Color, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, California Writers Club, and the Public Safety Writers Association.
Besides writing, he loves long-distance motorcycle riding, often alone, on his 2001 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.
George’s debut novel, The Mona Lisa Sisters, was published in 2020. His next, Robbers and Cops, is scheduled to be released later this month.
What inspires you to write?
Stories come to me, and I can’t get them out of my mind until I get the words down on paper. My upcoming release, Robbers and Cops, began that way. However, after I managed to get the basics written, I saw a picture that forced me to set it aside and spend the next eight years working on The Mona Lisa Sisters.
Writers are sometimes interrupted by story ideas that demand our attention, and those interruptions can often lead to our best work. What is the best thing that has happened because of your writing?
Meeting and making new friends and mentors. Writing has allowed me to meet, learn, and work with heaps of fantastic people. Many will remain friends throughout life.
The writing community is filled with fun and interesting people, and it’s so much fun getting to know them through clubs, writing groups, and events. What is the most challenging thing you have experienced about writing or publishing?
I had a positive routine before COVID in which I wrote around eight thousand words a week. I went to the Dublin library and worked until I had two thousand words written or wrote for four hours. The county still has the library on a mask requirement which interferes with my breathing, so I’m still not writing as much as I wish.
COVID has definitely disrupted a lot of routines over the past few years. Some people were able to write more because of limited activities in public, and others wrote less because of the physical, emotional, and psychological impacts of the pandemic on us, our families, and our writing and publishing goals. Do you have a publisher and/or agent, or are you an indie or a hybrid author?
I guess I’m hybrid. The folks at Russian Hill Press help me coordinate all the after-production work, which takes months.
It’s great you got help with the postproduction work, it can be quite daunting. Which genre(s) do you write in?
The Mona Lisa Sisters is historical, literary fiction, while Robbers and Cops is a combination of thriller and police procedural. I have a trilogy in progress that is the same genre.
Historical fiction and thrillers both seem to be popular genres. Do you outline your books before you write them?
Never! Believe me, I’ve tried, but I get a few points down and can’t stop myself from delving into the story. I am a hardcore pantser.
Another pantser—I used to think there were more authors that outlined their books—the plotters. But so far everyone I’ve interviewed has been a pantser, and that method has been successful for them. How do you define success as a writer?
That is a tough question. Being a New York Times bestselling author would be nice, but few of us get there. For me, putting together a good story that sells more than a few hundred copies is a step in the right direction. That happened with my first book, The Mona Lisa Sisters. I expect even better sales with Robbers and Cops, another standalone, closely followed by New Liberty, the first in the Hector Miguel Navarro crime series.
Hitting the New York Times bestseller list is certainly a fun dream for authors, but the vast majority of us must be content with far fewer book sales. If you could have lunch with any author, who would it be?
Bernard Cornwell. I’ve read most of his books and even traveled to Salamanca, Spain, just so I could walk across a bridge described in one of Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe books of the Napoleonic Wars.
I’m not familiar with Cornwell’s books, but now I’ll have to go check them out. Before we end the interview, tell us about a great adventure you’ve had.
Another tough question in that I’ve had several experiences that I’d describe as great adventures. Included would have to be some cross-country motorcycle rides—often alone. But, the journey that always comes to mind happened when I was sixteen. My dad, uncle, brother, and I spent three weeks walking the John Muir Trail, starting from Lone Pine, California. I say walking—not hiking—because we had three pack animals, donkeys, which carried our equipment and food. The adventure began when my Dad bought the animals. He taught me how to make all the equipment and care for them. Often on the trip, we had to fight through snow and hail. When the weather was good, I’d take off ahead of the others early in the morning for an hour or so, find a stream, and catch a few golden trout—only above ten thousand feet. I’d get a small fire going, clean the fish, and have them ready to cook when the others caught up. It was an incredible adventure.
I’ve spent time in Lone Pine, but never hiked the John Muir Trail there. That sounds like an incredible adventure–especially with snow and hail. George, thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences with us and telling us about your books!
Readers, you can find out more about George and his books at his website, https://gdcramer.com. Robbers and Cops will be available for preorder there in a couple of weeks. You can read George’s blog at https://gdcramer.com/george-cramer-blog/ and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can purchase The Mona Lisa Sisters here: Amazon.com: The Mona Lisa Sisters: A Historical Literary Fiction Novel: 97817Geo34122060: Cramer, George: Books.
The Tucker brothers embark on a life of crime, taking them from the swamps of Georgia to Oregon and beyond. Along the way, they brush against prohibition-era gangsters.
Caught and convicted of bank robbery, they spend decades in prison. Released, they renew their criminal endeavors. It takes the collaboration of multiple police agencies to bring their crimes to a halt.
Readers, have you had any solo adventures like George and his motorcycle trips? Let us know in the comments!